Outside Contributors

6 Health Benefits Of Hiking That Everyone Should Know

6 Health Benefits Of Hiking That Everyone Should Know

Hiking is an activity that can be fun, even for beginners, and it also gives you plenty of health benefits on top of that. Countless scientific studies and research shows regular exercise can help improve mental health and physical well-being. 

Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of serious health problems like diabetes, colon cancer, and coronary heart diseases. Other significant benefits include better weight control, better joints, increased muscle, and bone health.

In this time and age, mental health is just as important as physical health. And, you’ll be pleased to know that regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. On top of that, it can help your pockets as lowering the risk of health problems would lead to fewer hospitalization or physician visits. And, everyone knows that a trip to the hospital or doctor is not cheap.

Up to now, this article is mainly talking about exercising. However, hiking is one of the best exercises you can do. Almost anyone can do it, and it doesn’t cost much. On top of all that, it’s one of the lowest impact physical activities you can do. This translates to getting many cardiovascular benefits of aerobic activities while minimizing the pounding, strain, and stress on your body. 

This article has already mentioned a lot of benefits of hiking, but it’s time to get into the finer details.

1. Prevents Heart Diseases

In 2006, the American Heart Association published a study that shows 631,636 have died due to heart disease in that year alone. Another study states that heart diseases will cost the United States around $316.4 billion in lost productivity, medication, and treatment. While these studies may paint a grim picture, but the good news is that you can do something about it.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published 43 separate studies, and it showed that regular hiking or exercising could significantly reduce the chance of having a heart problem. The CDC also stated that for people who don’t do any physical exercises, the risk of coronary heart disease is doubled compared to individuals who exercise regularly.

2. Controls Hypertension

Medical professionals often call hypertension the “silent killer.” This is because the symptoms are hard to detect, and this health problem leads to stroke, heart attack, and other serious illnesses. And yet, most people don’t take hypertension seriously as most would assume that they don’t have it, and the hard-to-detect symptoms only contribute to the wrong assumption. However, hypertension is a widespread problem as it affects nearly one-third of American adults. 

Thankfully, just by doing regular hiking or exercise, you can quickly lower your blood pressure by 4 to 10 points. If you can reduce or maintain your weight to normal levels, you can further reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 20 points.

3. Helps Manage Diabetes

According to statistics, many Americans who have diabetes have increased at least 50 percent since 1983. It’s a growing problem as more and more Americans are leaning towards unhealthy foods and sedimentary lifestyles.

From the Diabetes Institute, Richard Eastman stated that the most significant reasons for the dramatic increase are the increased lack of physical activity and obesity. Fortunately, hiking can do a lot of good not only in preventing diabetes but also when it comes to managing it.

For Type I (insulin-dependent) sufferers, hiking can help in reducing the person’s need for insulin. For Type II (non-insulin-dependent), walking can even help reverse the problem, especially if paired with a prescribed diet and weight loss. 

4. Prevents And Remedy Obesity

Hiking is one of the best ways of losing excess weight. It can also help in stabilizing your cholesterol levels. For the average person, one can expect to burn at least 100 calories for every mile of hiking. You can increase the calorie burn by increasing your walking speeds.

If you hike at a speed of 2.5 miles per hour, you can expect to burn from 200 to 250 calories. That translates to walking a mile in about 24 minutes, which is already common pacing for most people. You can further increase the calorie burn by walking at a speed of 4.5 miles per hour. This means walking a mile in about 13 minutes. Most novice runners typically maintain such speeds.

Another big benefit of hiking to lose weight is that it helps in continued weight reduction or maintains the lost weight. This is drastically different from dieting alone, in which most people would only experience weight loss during the dieting period. And when they stop the diet, they gain back all the lost weight.

5. Reduces Anxiety Symptoms

While facing a perceived or real threat, whether physical or psychological, the human body releases adrenaline.

Adrenaline is often referred to as the “fight or flight” hormone. As adrenaline floods your system, it accumulates, causing feelings of anxiety, among other things. Hiking helps release the accumulated adrenaline, which then reduces the symptoms of anxiety. Studies have shown an immediate decrease in anxiety and tension after a walk, regardless of how slow or fast the participant hiked.

Furthermore, after a good hike, the body releases endorphins, which is also known as the “feel-good” hormone. In other words, hiking can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety while increasing the endorphins at the same time. Hence, if you have anxiety tendencies, hiking is an excellent way to combat this. 

6. Promotes Bone Health

Osteoporosis becomes more concerning as you grow older. Thankfully, hiking can prevent or reverse osteoporosis by slowing down calcium loss and increasing bone density. As an added benefit, high bone density decreases the chance of broken bones, which could be fatal for aging people.

A study published by the University of Washington stated that women with osteoporosis increased their bone density by 6% over nine months by hiking for at least an hour and three days a week.

Wrapping It All Up

Just because hiking doesn’t require expensive gear or require you to go to a special place, it doesn’t mean that it’s an ineffective exercise. In fact, hiking is one of the best forms of exercise as it is a low-impact physical activity. Furthermore, you have plenty to gain from hiking, such as: 

* Prevents Heart Diseases

* Controls Hypertension

* Helps Manage Diabetes

* Prevents And Remedy Obesity

* Reduces Anxiety Symptoms 

* Promotes Bone Health

Grab your shoes and enjoy a good hike!

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